CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Experts call it the 100 deadliest days for teens—the summer months between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s a period when teens are out of school, headed to the beaches and loading up their cars with friends.
“That is a recipe for disasters because there’s a lot of distraction,” Michelle Anderson of the National Road Safety Foundation said.
A study done by AAA shows that on an average day, about six teens die on the roads, but during this 100-day period, that number spikes to about nine teens per day.
In West Virginia, last year’s official numbers trended in the wrong direction with traffic fatalities rising nearly 5%, even during a pandemic. Nationwide, the numbers for 2021 were the highest number of traffic deaths in the past 16 years.
To make the 100 days safer, officials want parents to speak to their children about safe driving and set an example.
“If you are not buckling up, if you are on your phone while you’re in the vehicle you’re more than likely that’s what your teen driver is going to do,” Anderson said.
Parents should also be aware of state laws for their teens.
“In the state of West Virginia, teens are not supposed to drive past 10 p.m. without a person 21 or older in the vehicle,” Anderson said.
Ultimately, officials hope these safety precautions will help bring down the number of teen deaths, so the state can have the safest summer ever.
“If we can prevent one person from dying on our roads, if we can actually educate and raise the awareness of one other teen on our road, we have a better chance at saving lives and not having these preventable deaths,” Anderson said.
The “Safest Summer Ever” campaign will partner with the National Road Safety Foundation and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) to post on social media every week, which will be amplified by shares and re-posts by SADD chapters and members nationwide.
“By mobilizing the tens of thousands of student safety advocates in the SADD community at the middle school, high school and college level, we hope to make this the safest summer ever, not only for teens on the road, but for all drivers and passengers,” said SADD President and CEO Rick Birt. “Young people will help spread important safe driving messages to their peers, friends and family at a time when teens are most at risk on the road.”